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Nucleic Acids Res. 1993 Jan 25;21(2):179-83.

Regional base composition variation along yeast chromosome III: evolution of chromosome primary structure.

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Department of Genetics, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


The recent determination of the complete sequence of chromosome III from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae allows, for the first time, the investigation of the long range primary structure of a eukaryotic chromosome. We have found that, against a background G+C level of about 35%, there are two regions (one in each chromosome arm) in which G+C values rise to over 50%. This effect is seen in silent sites within genes, but not in noncoding intergenic sequences. The variation in G+C content is not related to differential selection of synonymous codons, and probably reflects mutational biases. That the intergenic regions do not exhibit the same phenomenon is particularly interesting, and suggests that they are under substantial constraint. The yeast chromosome may be a model of the structure of the human genome, since there is evidence that it is also a mosaic of long regions of different base compositions, reflected in wide variation of G+C content at silent sites among genes. Two possible causes of this regional effect, replication timing, and recombination frequency, are discussed.

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